Thursday, August 17, 2023

Twenty years ago today

 I had a former colleague advised me to not put my family website blog in an email footer if I wasn't updating it on a semi-frequent business. That's not why I still have it. I've long opted out of the attention economy and kept this as part of my personal journal to be online. Originally I did it to showcase my technical prowess with web applications. Now I keep it for sentimental and landmark reasons. Some of those items may be worth a follow-up blog post, but not today.

Today I want to state how proud of am of my two decades old son. Twenty years ago on a very hot August day in Kansas this happened:

It was an amazing event for everyone involved. 

We moved this little one, now taller than us, across county a dozen years ago and he's made as much of a way as he can out here in LA. We didn't know it until several years in, but he's not mentally wired like most people and struggled with academics in our school system. He is smart, just not in a way the standardized testing is geared for. He's currently figuring out where to go with his life from here and we're supporting whatever decision(s) he makes. 

It has been such a gratifying and learning experience for myself and Janet. We have been pleasantly and unpleasantly surprised in many ways as I expect most every parent is or will be. There are no safety straps on this ride.

But getting back to my pride in this young man. Let's consider my self-evaluation of when I turned 20: 

I had been on a fruitless quest to hook up with college girls and spent more than my fair share of time in seedy bars of my college town. I had moved out and moved back in with my parents and I was more than a bit sullen, angry, and stuck. I was deceitful and unkind in many ways and I'm amazed that anyone stuck with me at all. I had some support networks but most days I was angry and hostile, especially to those I lived with. My father was in the process of dying but I didn't realize what a big deal that was. I was in college but not applying myself. The person I was wouldn't recognize myself now. I had maxed out the credit card the industry vultures had supplied college students in those days. I was aimless and many things felt hopeless.

Let's compare that jerk with my son. 

He's not in college. He's also not wasting his money or time being somewhere he doesn't want to be. He is kind and welcoming to people. He has a close group of friends that really enjoy his company. He's not in any debt. He is enthusiastic and willing to share his interests. He helps willingly and cheerfully helps with the house chores we've assigned him. He's a good driver(in LA that's huge!). He doesn't drink, or drink and drive. He doesn't lie - like at all. He likes being in our home. He asks me to cook for him and has enough pride in his father's cooking that he shares it with his friends.

Comparing those characteristics with my own at the same age, he's a far better person that I was at his age.  Matt, I'm proud of the person you are. It hasn't always been easy for me to think or say that, but it is true. As I look at where you are and who you're becoming, I would not have imagined it could come from that person I was at 20. I love you very much and I'm going to enjoy seeing what you become.


Wednesday, October 7, 2020

A parable for 2020 Zeitgeist

 President Donald J Trump reactivated the New Jersey and it's battle group to show the amazing strength of the U.S. 

While out on the shakedown cruise with Admiral Crown a sudden storm arose, knocking out radios and hampering visibility. Suddenly the bridge crew spotted a light ahead not moving toward either side of the massive battleship - indicating a collision was imminent. 

BB-62(using light signals): Approaching ship, suggest you turn N or S to avoid collision

 Unknown ship: Suggest you turn

BB-62: This is the New Jersey, not some commercial vessel. Suggest you change course.

US: Respectfully, I suggest you change course.

BB-62: (The President has noticed the situation and decided to intervene) This is Donald J Trump, President of the United States and Command-in-Chief of the armed forces, you will turn or this beautiful amazing battleship will crush you like a bug!

US: This is a lighthouse.

DJT: Admiral Crown, full speed ahead, you'll fly right over him!

Sunday, May 31, 2020

A long time coming...

During this time of national home-dwelling, people have paid attention to George Floyd, Ahmaud Aubrey, and Breonna Taylor. It is long past time we had a reckoning of the police violence, and by extension white violence against black people. We are not the nation we say we are and that internal struggle will rend individuals apart much as it seems to be rending nation apart. We can no longer live in a nation where black people make up 13% of the general population but compose 67%+ of the prison population; no longer live in a world where your ZIP code, especially if you're black determines will almost unerring precision your destiny in economics and incarceration.

There must be a larger movement in communities large and small to reign in the occupying police forces and replace them with partnering order-keepers. The heartbreak of seeing my city under curfew was somewhat alleviated by seeing a few police departments march with protesters. Let's have all of our municipal constabularies do such work. An officer who can say 'we agree with you, and we will be accountable to our public' will have much more moral authority than a force that dresses up in combat gear and initiates confrontation with the public they've sworn to serve.

If our police forces continue to show and initiate violence towards the people they're sworn to protect, I suggest that anyone organizing the protest find out what their second amendment rights are and open-carry whenever possible. At this point, there is no need for violence, nor to make the first move, but we've all seen how beholden the white supremacist state is to angry people with guns. Be polite, be professional, but don't let anyone push you around - I'm paraphrasing the Mattis quote.

The other thing that we must do is stop making viral images of black people dying. There are a couple of good articles by better writers than I that make this point, read them. While we're on the point of reading, make sure to read _White Fragility_. This will help even though it's hard.

I wish I was sad about the looting and burning, but I'm not. I'm not sure I can blame anyone that understands/has lived with 400+ years of black labor exploitation for the looting that occurred. At this point, it's barely a drop in terms of recompense of what has been stolen from black people.

Ways to support black people:

  1. Buy from black-owned businesses. Here's a link to an LA version of that directory. A simple web search should find something similar where you live.
  2. Donate at least to the following three places:
  3. Before you call the cops on anyone, watch this
  4. Be a better human, and don't let this initial burst of energy wane. Keep going, this is a marathon.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Now would be a good time for remote work

During this time of social distancing and remote work, it would be a great time to send all the Congresscritters home to their own states and districts. This is the best time to send the elected officials home to distantly meet their constituents and then keep them home except for ceremonial occasions. This is all in the name of containment of the virus after all.

Want to go to D.C.? Justify the expense to your district and keep records of your expenses for reimbursement. Everything that's done in D.C. can be done remotely - shared documents, committee meetings, bloviating to empty chamber can all done far more cheaply in your home district.

This will have the odd side-effect of breaking the monopoly on lobbying that D.C. holds. It would be a shame to dilute all of that lobbyist money out to Enid OK, Mesa AZ, or Hanover NH. Yeah it would be a shame that the corporate to be diluted.

It will also put the representatives in closer contact to their voters. That would be terrible for them, they'd have to live under the laws they passed and live with the people affected. Indeed, it could be traumatizing for those poor people.

Just a thought

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Impress me Congress

Not only do we get a new President but we get the same Congress. If we really want to shake things up and 'drain the swamp' let the new government consider the following:
  • Eliminate coining the penny and nickel. They are both cost more to produce than they're worth and neither furthers commerce. 
  • De-centralize the legislature. Move the representatives from the House back to their respective states. There's no reason for 'local' representatives to live in D.C. and thereby be within easy reach of K-street. With modern IT systems there's no need to send everyone to one city. Do this for the Senate as well. Keep the buildings and such for ceremonial duties.
  • While we've moved the reps back to the states, let's increase their numbers. The U.S. has had a set number of reps since 1913. Each representative served 211k constituents. Today each rep serves 758k. I'm not sure how one person can represent 200k let alone 758k of people. If we want a people's house and not a second Senate, we've got to add more politicians.
  • Abolish the Electoral College. I'm not saying this from sour grapes, I'm saying that this system is antiquated to the needs of our republic.
  • Ranked-choice voting. The reason we have only two parties is that our election system (first-past-the-post) leads to it.
  • Make national elections a national holiday. Shouldn't we celebrate our republic?
  • Pay down/off the national debt. We almost had this in the early 2000s. Don't screw this up again. Here's a better idea from the right side of the aisle. Only allow the government to spend what it has collected in the previous year.
  • Add a national service system that parallels the military. I can think of no other equalizer of and to others than the armed forces, but not everyone wants to nor should risk their life.
I'm not holding out hope that any of these things will be done in the next session, but I could be surprised.

Monday, November 14, 2016

My thoughts on the recent POTUS election.

The main feeling I get from this election is that the majority of people thought they had two choices

  1. A lying politician whose bullshit they could see openly.
  2. A lying politician whose bullshit couldn't be seen and wouldn't be acknowledged.
Given the choice of these two items, the EC granted #1 the win. And for all of the desire for change and draining the swamp, the same rats (90%+) were sent back to the swamp.

Given the results I have a few hunches on what will happen in the next few years.
  • Rs will pass massively underfunded budgets and claim how awesome that they are since deficits and debt don't matter until there's a Democratic branch of government.
  • Rs will forget all about Presidential power abuses and not seek to re-constrain the executive branch powers
  • Rs will become victims of their own hubris and over-reach.
  • There will be a recession - we're overdue according to the Motley Fool podcast.
More thoughts later about what I'd like to see from an even vaguely functioning Congress.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Grief-enabled gaming

I was going to title this twat-enabled gaming, but that seemed like the wrong thing to put in the title.

In my past games with @princessofworld@banky, @AndrewDPickard, and others we always played games that while competitive never really put one player out of the rest of the game. Battlestar Galactica comes to mind, as does Dune and a few others. One can lose the game and still feel it was a good time. I have yet to lose BSG or Dune and feel left out of the action.

However, there are those games that commit the ultimate player sin - wasting someone's time. The mechanics of these games enable that sin. Putting someone in a glass house and forcing them to watch the game play is sadistic.

I've played five bouts of the 4X game Eclipse. This last game I played, I made a tactical mistake on turn two and had my next door player crush my homeworld on turn three. I was assured by the rest of the table that I wasn't out of it, so I continued. I waited and tried to take back my homeworld on a subsequent turn. This caused the neighbor to crush me again with what I considered an ostentatious over-kill. I am not proud of myself, but I was more than a bit upset about him re-routing the weakest player on the board. Hash and loud words were exchanged.

I sat there fuming and doing essentially nothing for the next few hours. When the opponent finally started scorching my remaining worlds, I packed up and left, in a huff. There was another four of nine turns left in the game. The game enabled the asshole in me.

I'm not mad at my opponent for taking advantage of a weaker neighbor and my play mistakes. What I am still upset about is that I was left crippled without a chance to play. This is a dick move. A better player would have finished me off quickly. If it were me, I would have explained to my opponent what mistake I capitalized on that allowed me to so quickly take his position. There's no sense in letting someone hang around who can't affect the outcome.

Another instance was one of my last rounds with SmashUp. SmashUp has a lot of mess-with-your opponent mojo going for it. In general it's a pretty fun little game, but there is a faction whose power is basically to make everyone else at the table not play. On top of that they can give out negative victory points thereby making everyone else's game harder. This can be done while they themselves don't have to make winning moves. This entirely neuters the point of playing. Myself and other players sat for three or four turns not playing. I'm not sure what schedules other people have, but as a 40-something with a family, I can not play games in a much more productive manner at home.

Then there's the Lannister faction from Game of Thrones. I'm about ready to give my copy away due to the fact that I've played them all five times I've played the game and they wind up being crippled by turn three or four. Again, playing a weaker starting position isn't the worst thing, but this game's mechanics encourage glass-housing.

Games that enable this type of behavior even unintentionally are broken. I'm sure my Eclipse opponent is a decent enough fellow, but this type of game-enabled griefing left a bad taste in my mouth. I doubt I'll be invited back to play this game again and that's probably for the best. I'm going to give GoT one more try as not-Lannister to see how it goes.